13/08/2012 - Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC) is claiming the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) an amount of $573 million for breach of contract, according to Bernardo González, Project Director of the consortium in charge of the construction of the third set of locks.
The claim was filed last July 20, said González. The consortium states they have had additional costs for the construction of the third set of locks because of the delay on the permits, workers who have stopped working because the tests of concrete were not approved, as well as the excess of rains over the last months.
GUPC’s executive said the amount they are claiming is a fair amount. “We are not asking for nothing more and nothing less”, he said.
In this regard, ACP Administrator, Albero Alemán Zubieta said these claims are normal when the contractor faces different situations. Everything is analyzed and there is a procedure in order to address this subject, he said.
“They [GUPC] have their arguments and we have ours which will have to be defended”, said Alemán Zubieta. This will be solved with an arbitration system, he said.
GUPC was awarded with the design and construction project for the third set of locks for $3.12 billion.
This project has six months of delay so far, reason why if it does not catch up with the established schedule, the work will be ready in April 2015 and not October 2014 as planned. The delays are related to the casting of concrete in the locks which began with six months of delay since the consortium did not met on time the required specifications for the mixture of concrete.
González said the consortium is trying to catch up with the schedule so the work can be finished in 2014.
The contract for the design and construction of the third set of lock establishes three mechanisms in order to solve the conflicts with the contractor. First, the consortium must file the claim to the ACP; second, if there is no agreement they can go to a dispute adjudication board; and third, they can go to an International Arbitration Court as a last resort.
González said the claim was already filed in a committee formed by three members: two chosen by each party and the third chosen by both parties in consensus.
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